Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On a lighter note

After writing about some "heavy" subjects in January, I thought it would be good to write about the fun times of family, friends, food and art...

We spent an evening with my niece Diane, her husband Andrew and daughter Alice.  It was great to catch up on how things are going with their new house, new job and life in Indy.

With friends Kevin and Kathy we went to a great little dive restaurant, Little Nugget, where we cooked our own steaks.  Awesome food!  We then headed to a local winery where we enjoyed a bottle of wine and listened to a great guitar player.  And Mike made friends with the winery cat...

I took a painting class one evening last week where we used fabric paint on glass. You can pick up amazingly cheap glass at Goodwill.  The bottle with handles was only $1.00!

I've also continued making purses.  Amazing how much easier it's getting the more purses I make...

And I am working on a latch hook rug my mom made by framing it with a lighter yarn.  This is the first I've picked up a latch hook rug for 15 years...

And work on our house continues...

Mike set up our new workout area in the basement, and this morning I got back on the exercise bike.  At least it's something I can do while my foot is healing.  Of course to maximize space, Mike also stores all the music CD's and DVD's in this area in the basement...

And finally the recliner in my study has been re-upholstered.  It's like an old friend with more padding.  Turned out great!

And then we are having 59 degree days in January.  Life is good!

Take care and enjoy your week!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Friends and family

Ok, I should have added "and death" in the title, but I didn't want you to turn away. I guess this is but another facet of getting older, more people die and you attend more funerals.  Last week I attended one funeral and thought a lot about a second funeral I didn't attend.  Both weigh heavy on me.

My friend's father died last week at home in hospice care at the age of 91.  Also my ex-mother-in-law died at the age of 85.

 I've been processing all of this over the past week, and here are some of my rambling thoughts.

A whole generation is passing away.  Our parent's generation is leaving us.  That saddens me and scares me that we are somehow left in charge.

At a time when so often hear about heroic medical efforts to prolong lives,  my friend's family honored their dad's wish to die at home.  Such a selfless act.

He and each family member shared goodbyes before he died.  This is a tough thing to do, but it was what he wanted, and the family did not hesitate.  Instead they drew strength from the fact that there were all with him when he passed on.

And I'm continuing to learn about funeral customs.  Open caskets.  Widows and children greeting each visitor.  Hearing the stories and listening to favorite songs.  And lots of tears.  I don't know that this is the best way, but maybe somebody more experienced than me understands how these things are important for closure.  I tell my friends I prefer a party when it's my time...but it will likely be the same familiar customs.

And I'm learning that the younger generation isn't afraid for their small kids to be around death.  When I was growing up my parents seemed to shield us from death and funerals.  Now kids are at funerals and open caskets, and parents answer their questions about death.  Seems to be a healthier way.

And you really don't know what to do or say for your friends who are grieving.  Lots of hugs and just being there when they need you.  It's awkward and hard and there isn't really a road map.

I was proud of my mom, 2 sisters, brother and nephews for going to my ex-mother-in-law's visitation.  Harder for me to know what to do, I sent condolences via email and card.  Probably the only way...

So it's another week now.  And the immediacy of funerals is behind us.  But the memories of two people are still in the forefront.  And tears still come easy.  And life is just a bit more precious...


Monday, January 21, 2013

Salsa, injured foot and library card

So what do salsa, injured foot and library card all have in common?  Simple.  My life.

Mike makes a great salsa using his own recipe.  People love it and aren't shy about asking for it (Andrew and Melanie, you know who you are).  So after making a small batch for holiday gifts, Mike wanted to make a LARGE BATCH.  Now I've often doubled a recipe, but I never "octupled"(hope that means 8 times) the recipe.  What can I say???  So, at the risk of becoming a foodie blogger, here is the recipe...

Wash a zillion jars

Buy tons of produce

Add red bell peppers

Lemons and limes
Cumin and chipotle
Result: a  proud chef

And we are now storing 26 quarts and 5 pints of salsa in the basement.  Kind of like those people who stock their bunkers with canned goods preparing for the end of days.  Hey, as long as we add tortilla chips and tequila, we are set!

And then there's a small foot injury which happened about a week ago when Mike and walked up the driveway of a new home being built in the neighborhood.  At the time it seemed like a small misstep on  a rock, but after a week of pain, I decided a trip to the doctor was in order.  Good news is that it's not broken, bad news is a ligament problem which will likely take longer to heal.  So prescription is lots of ibuprofen, ice it, elevate it and don't walk much.  Like I know how to sit still for a week to 10 days!  And then there's that shoe...  a sexy little number with the right socks!

And of course, that prompted me to find the local public library and get my library card so I have some good reading materials over the next week. Hopefully I won't be bored to tears.  

On a positive note, there's Mike waiting on me. Hmm...could get used to this.

Take care,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Heads or Tails?

Ok, I guess if you are going to write a blog about retirement, you have to include some aging and health related stuff.  So for some of you, that probably means closing the browser now...

Generally I try to keep up on all my checkups and physicals.  I guess a scare with cancer causes some paranoia here.  So, in December I  decided that January would be a good time to get some of this stuff out of the way because what else can you do when it's cold and snowy, right?   And then of course I got to January and began to question that decision.

So it's halfway through the month, and I've already been through a couple of "harrowing" appointments.  First was some dental work; my new dentist said I needed 2 new crowns.  So, lucky me,  I got to spend $1400 out of pocket for the lovely 2.5 hour experience of shots, drilling, building up the teeth, creating impressions for temporary and permanent crowns and installing temporary crowns.

I was so tense through the entire appointment that my body was stiff when I finally got out of the chair.  My favorite line was when the dentist asked "did anyone ever tell you that you have a small mouth?".  I guess it must have been difficult to get all of his "instruments of torture"in there.  And no, I don't recall anyone ever saying I had a small mouth before...

So, in a couple more weeks I get the pleasure of having the permanent crowns installed.  Hard to imagine why it would take 3 weeks to make them.  Must be made in France or something. I'm sure they will be BEAUTIFUL!

And for those of you over 50 who have experienced  a colonoscopy, you will remember the next experience.

Ok, I won't go into all the details here. Suffice it to say the prep day wasn't much fun. What with a liquid diet (this is the only time I eat jello) and drinking toxic solutions at 6 pm and again at 3 am that cause more than a few trips to the bathroom, I was ready for the procedure to be over.

And actually the procedure itself is the easy part.  They give you some good drugs like Versed and Demerol, and then you wake up like nothing happened.  Afterwards Mike helped me out to the car because I was stumbling about like a drunk.  And then it was  home for breakfast, and  I vaguely recall how difficult it was to put cream cheese on my bagel so I guess it's good advice when they tell you not to drive or make important decisions the day of the procedure.  After a whole day of napping, I feel normal again today.  The good news is that the procedure went well with no problems, and I don't have to think about it again for 5 years.


So I've been the "butt" of lots of jokes lately. From Mike saying it's a good "heads or tails" month, to Kevin asking "how my rear end procedure" went (sounds like I'm a car),  I just relied on my favorite black cat to stick with me (and read me all the big words).

Take care and stay healthy!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Strange weather!

Purple? Guess it means "transition"

Strange weather!  How many times have we said that lately?  Well, it was 60 degrees yesterday, and today there is ice on the trees.

Ice arrives

And then the flooding.  In the past few days 6 inches of snow melted,  and we got a couple of inches of rain.  The West Fork of the White Lick Creek runs through our neighborhood, and our eyes opened wide when we saw homes with water in their backyards.  We are happy that our home sits atop a hill...
White Lick Creek

Shouldn't they move those cars?

Flood waters approaching the cemetery

Road into the park

Mom and I crafted "EAT" during her December visit
Mike and I spent part of yesterday whipping up a meal of  jerk chicken (I got the recipe from a wonderful blog called "Iowa Girl Eats"), grilled potatoes and salad.  And I enjoyed trying a new brownie recipe that included Saigon cinnamon and Ancho  peppers.   Chuck and Melanie joined us for food, wine, stories and laughter.  Life is good!

And I was so happy to use some of my stoneware which I located in the storage unit.  Ok, my kitchen stuff is the final frontier of boxes remaining in storage. I find myself missing Iowa lately...don't know why now.  But somehow finding and using that stoneware made me smile!  Silly, I know.

And because this blog is supposed to be about retirement, I want to talk about jobs.  Chuck is starting a new job this week, and it was his wide range of work experience that helped him land the job.  And Melanie recently started working with an interior decorator who specifically wanted Melanie's experience so she didn't have to train a person new to the decorating field.

Could be these are limited cases, but  I think this bodes well for folks in their 50's and 60's who may wonder if they can find work or a "second career".  Seems there are jobs that want and need solid work experience!   Good to keep in mind, though I still haven't applied for any project manager jobs yet.  Today I did see an interesting facilities project manager role at my Alma Mater. I am mulling this over, but I'm not sure it's for me.   Don't know if it's too early for a job, or if I want to try something different....

And I was in my studio working on jewelry.  I loved having some space to spread out with tools and beads.

And as I watched the ice coat the trees, I lazed near the fire, reading and writing.   One of my favorite things about retirement is a relaxing Sunday where I'm not stressing about a Monday workday!  I know, it's always the small stuff!

Take care and have a great week!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Road trip!

Entering the city

We took a road trip to Chicago in early January to see the holiday lights.  Ok, the trip was originally planned before Christmas but got snowed out.  So, my sweetie and I headed north on I-65 to the Windy City shortly after New Year's Day.

It was cold and snowy and bleak, but that didn't slow us down.  We were on a quest to explore the city!    From Water Tower Place to Michigan Avenue to Andersonville, we saw the sights...

Empty piers

Deserted lake front

Division Street
We enjoyed lunch at a little Italian restaurant called Rosebud on Rush.  Next we headed to the hotel a block off of Michigan Avenue and were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to a corner suite!  Hey, if this is a sign of things to come in the new year, I'll take it!  We were amazed at the view from the 33rd floor from Lake Michigan to an ice skating rink on top of one building to 2 large cow statues on the top of another.  They were on some type of grass roof...hey, I couldn't make this stuff up!

Grass fed?
We stopped at the adjoining Irish Pub for a couple of drinks to fortify us before some shopping.  Next we headed to Michigan Avenue and our first stop was Tiffany's.   Got to say that I love that place, and Mike surprised me with a beautiful necklace as a late Christmas gift.

Next stop was Water Tower Place which was still decorated for the holidays.  It was magical!

Escalators into Water Tower Place

And have you ever been in a Lego store?  Somehow Legos have come a long way from the tube boxes of Legos we had as kids.  The storefront was an amazing city scene!

And then there all these bins of different color Legos.  Who knew?

Bins of Legos

We bundled up and headed out for a long walk along Michigan Avenue to see the city lights. And they didn't disappoint...

Chicago skyline from Michigan Avenue

Chicago in winter whites

Toy soldier on display

And then there was a toy soldier and ornament...and a crazy Mikie and ornament!
And I don't know why...

The next day we headed North to Andersonville which had its' origins as a large Swedish town.  Nowadays it is a diverse community with beautiful old townhouses, lots of antique shops and eclectic restaurants.  We ate at a wonderful Persian restaurant with flat bread "as big as your head".  And we acquired a great antique bench which Mike squeezed into my Tiguan alongside the luggage and winter gear.

Speed hump?

Flat bread at Zera's

And we finally headed towards home at night fall enjoying a final view of the city.

After a busy holiday season, it was a great to have some time just for us!  It was a refreshing and fun start to the new year!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

We enjoyed a wonderful New Year's Eve dinner with friends at the Possum Trot Restaurant near Danville, Illinois.  I know, I didn't want to eat there either after hearing the name, but the rack of ribs and pinot noir...Lovely!

We spent most of New Year's Day outdoors in a beautiful wooded property our friends just bought near Marshall, Illinois.  It was a cold, grey winter day, but we bundled up and enjoyed exploring the woods.  We hiked through the crunchy snow and found a beautiful creek at the back of the property.  I also experienced 4-wheeling in snow for the first time.  It was a blast!  We finished the day at Kim and Harley's house with a hot bowl of chili.  I can't think of a better way to start the new year!

Ok, Taylyr wasn't really driving...

Kevin, Mike and Kathy

The next day we built a little smorgasbord in the backyard for our feathered friends.  And they love it! Never saw so many birds and so few squirrels (none so far).

We are resisting taking down the outdoor Christmas lights, but I notice the neighbors lights have been turned off.  I suppose we should at least turn them off.

Mike and I recently talked about our wishes for the new year.  Health for family, friends and ourselves was at the top of the list.   We are very happy to be closer to family, and look forward to great visits with family and friends.  Mike is excited about teaching at Rose-Hulman again in the Spring quarter.

And I look forward to writing, working in my studio and staying open to whatever new opportunities come my way.  And about the blogging, I think I'll keep going.  It's not exactly what I expected ( I thought I would be writing more about retirement stuff), but it's been such a great way to chronicle my daily life with a camera and a few words.  And when people tell me they smiled or laughed or enjoyed my writing, it's all worthwhile.  So thanks to my readers. I appreciate you joining me on this interesting new journey!

I hope you are excited about all the opportunities of the new year!